Buddha Jayanti

BUDDHA was born as Siddhartha Gautama, in 563 BC, near the town of Kapilavastu, which corresponds to Lumbini in modern day Nepal in the Himalaya Mountains. Born the son of a king, Siddhartha renounced all the trappings of wealth and began his search for the Truth. After many trials, Siddhartha finally came to rest under the shade of a banyan tree where he vowed he would remain until his goal was reached. All through the night he was tested by Evil, but his heart remained steadfast. In the morning, as the sun rose, Siddhartha saw the Truth. He had become Buddha.
Buddha Purnima is one of the most holy (perhaps the most holy) days in the Buddhist calendar. It is the celebration of Buddha's birth, subsequent enlightenment, and finally achievement of nirvana.

A special day to remember and honour Buddha
THROUGHOUT India, Buddha Purnima is the general name for this holiday. In Theravadas Buddhism, it is also known as Vesak, which is the name of the month in which this holiday occurs. In the western Gregorian calendar, the holiday generally falls on a full moon night in late April or early May.
On this sacred day, Buddhists take special care to honor and commemorate the everlasting importance of Buddha and his timeless message. They bath and clothe themselves solely in white garments, then gather together in viharas (temples) for worship and to listen to ongoing discourses on the life and teachings of the great Buddha.

A time to reaffirm the Buddhist principles
All throughout Buddha Purnima, believers reaffirm their faith in the five Buddhist principles (called the panchsheel) which are:
Not to take life.
Not to steal.
Not to lie.
Not to drink liquor or indulge in other intoxicants.
Not to commit adultery.

Also on this most holy of days, Buddhists refrain from eating meat.
Instead, they eat Kheer (a steaming Bengali dish that's more or less a mixture between flavorful soup and porridge). Buddhists also take great pains to share their meals with the poor.

Sharing and caring for the poor
Special charity is a hallmark of Buddha Purnima. In addition to sharing their kheer with the poor, Buddhists also set up stalls in public places and distribute clear drinking water to all who desire it. Additionally, Buddhists mark this day by showing special kindness to animals. For instance, they buy caged birds and set them free, or pay butchers to free animals that would otherwise be slaughtered for food.

Celebrations
All the important occasions related to the Buddha are combined in one on the full moon day in Vaishakh. Prayers, sermons, and nonstop recitation of Buddhist scriptures resonate in monasteries, religious halls, and homes. In the monasteries in Sikkim, monks hold day-long reading of the scriptures before the Buddha's statue. The lay people listen to these recitals, and also offer gifts to the monks and the statue.
The statue of the Buddha receives special attention everywhere, with people offering it incense, flowers, candles, and fruits. The Bodhi Vriksha or the Pipal tree the under which the Buddha's attained enlightenment also receives a fair share of garlands and coloured flags. People also sprinkle milk and scented waters on its roots and light lamps around it.
The full moon day of April/May is celebrated as the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This day holds special importance for the follower of Buddhism, as it is believed that on this day Lord Buddha was born, got enlightenment and also attained nirvana or salvation. The Buddha is regarded as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.